Restaurants

Taking the plunge

I finally did it! After months of internal debate, I finally decided to start my own food blog. I realized that today was the perfect day to start. Today is my first day of training for the Music City Half Marathon! (Go me!) With all this extra running I will be doing, I know I will work up an appetite. I also realized how hard it is to keep track of all the restaurants I visit and my kitchen adventures.

This past weekend I had company in town. The first thing I did was pull out my handy list of restaurants I wanted to try to start to plan the weekend. And I must say, I did pretty damn well with my choices. Here’s the weekend breakdown:

Friday: MAFIAoZA’s

When I was in high school, my family came here just about every Friday night that I can remember.  Tonight, I took a coworker (new to the area) to show her some of its greatness. This place has killer pizza with a fun atmosphere to match.

I ordered the Long Vacation pizza and a margarita. The pizza was perfectly cheesy like always. The best thing about this place is that you can order a build-your-own slice of pizza that is literally the size of your face, or a whole pizza! You can’t go wrong either way you choose. I usually just order a whole one, because pizza leftovers the best leftovers. The margaritas are just as delicious as they are strong. I also love that they’re served in a mason jar. The atmosphere at MAFIAoZA’s is one of my favorite things about the place. You can sit in the dining room, which feels like a family-friendly pizzeria with an open kitchen, in the bar or outside on the covered (heated) patio. I always request the patio. It is equipped with big-screen TVs and its own bar. Great place to watch a game, eat with the family or unwind after a long day at work.

My friends from out of town got here shortly after dinner, and I took them to their very first Nashville Predators game! I have been going to them with my dad since I was little. Needless to say the game ended with a win. Go Preds!

Saturday: Mad Donna’s, Burger Up and Jeni’s Ice Cream

After a long night of celebrating the Predators win, we made it to brunch. Mad Donna’s is in the trendy East Nashville neighborhood. We started the meal with a round of beignets. They were good, but they have nothing on Café Du Monde. Mad Donna’s beignets are seem more like glorified funnel cakes, nothing too special. The restaurant is known for its 2-for-1 mimosas and bloody mary bar. I ordered the tradish and the pomegranate Mimosas. They were great, but tasted a little artificial to me. I’m a fan of pulp in my Mimosa, odd, I know. I’m not a huge Bloody Mary fan, one of  the girls in our group tried one and loved it!

I ordered Donna’s Omelette with potatoes, which was enough for about three people. It had queso and black beans inside with guacamole and salsa on top. It was absolutely delicious, but I wish I had ordered their specialty, the Captain’s Crunch French Toast. I’m a sucker for French Toast. Everyone else at my table got the Crab Cake Benedict or East Side Wrap, which they said were both delicious!

For dinner, a friend and I went to Burger Up. It is located in the hip 12th Ave. South neighborhood (just down the road from MaFiAoZA’s) and is known for having the most outstanding burgers and laid-back atmosphere. It is a farm-to-table restaurant, and the restaurant gets all its beef from Triple L Ranch in Williamson County. (Also, read the “Story” section on Burger Up’s website about how the restaurant came to be, very cool!)

I can honestly say I felt as though I was in heaven in this place. The wait was supposed to be about 30-45 minutes, but we were seated after waiting maybe 15 minutes. The set up is clean and rustic, with long wooden tables taking up the middle of the restaurant. Multiple parties share a table, which really goes with the atmosphere of the place. Luckily, you get your own seat, though (I was worried I would have to share a bench.)  I can’t say it would be a good place for a romantic intimate meal, but, honestly, why would you go to a burger joint in the first place if intimate is what you’re going for.

My friend ordered a local beer (can’t remember the name) and I ordered a margarita (starting to see a trend with my drink choices?) We ordered the fried pickles as an appetizer. They were just fried enough to let the pickle taste shine through, but still getting the fried-pickle taste.

For dinner, we both ordered the Woodstock burger. It has bacon, Tennessee Sweetwater white cheddar cheese and Jack Daniels maple ketchup. I got mine with avocado and it took the taste to a whole new level. It was hands-down the best burger I have ever had in my entire life. My friend ordered the truffle fries to go with his, and I got the sweet potato fries. I don’t think I ever decided on which fries I liked better…I go back and forth each time I think about it. Our outstanding waiter gave us a white sauce to go on the truffle fries, but it tasted even better on mine! (Yep, I’m a sauce stealer.) When you’re at Burger Up, ALWAYS ask for the truffle fry sauce no matter what you order. Trust me ladies and gentlemen, you won’t be disappointed. You will dip it in anything you can get your hands on.

Even though we were stuffed out of our minds, it was about 30 degrees outside and we knew we would have to stand outside in the cold to wait, we couldn’t resist going to Jeni’s Ice Cream. It is SO GOOD. The funny thing about the place is that the most odd flavors are actually the best ones. The employees are generous about giving out samples, so be sure to take them up on that. I ended up ordering the Black Currant frozen yogurt and the Roxbury Road ice cream. My friend ordered the Milkiest Chocolate in the World, Buckeye State and Salted Caramel ice cream. Buckeye State and Black Currant were the best.

Sunday: Pancake Pantry, Burger Republic

It was finally Superbowl Sunday!! (Please take a moment of silence for Peyton and the Broncos…)

We went to brunch at the good ‘ole Pancake Pantry. This is one of Nashville’s most treasured restaurants.  It’s a no-frills kind of place, with the best brunch in the world. Yes, the world. I almost always get the exact same thing, though: the small appetite plate with a side of hash browns. Don’t let the name fool you. This plate comes with 2 eggs, bacon and 3 buttermilk pancakes…and it’s not just for those with a small appetite. Insider secret: you can always substitute buttermilk pancakes for any other kind on the menu! My favorites are: sweet potato pancakes, chocolate chip and blueberry. My friend got the Grill Cook’s Medley. It is basically a deconstructed omelet, over a bed of hash browns and toast, with buttermilk pancakes on the side. Better come hungry and with stretchy pants.

My mom came into town Sunday afternoon and we went to Burger Republic to watch the big game. It was odd that I went to a burger place two nights in a row, and may have affected my judgement on this restaurant. (Sorry, but I am not sorry that I am so in love with Burger Up. It’s true burger/fry love y’all.) Burger Republic is known for its spiked milkshakes, so naturally I had to order one. I ordered the Spiked Reese’s Malt. You couldn’t even taste the vodka, so I could see these getting pretty lethal. I ordered the Tennessee burger with a side salad and my mom ordered the classic burger with fries. Neither of us made it through even half of our burgers. My bun was soggy and both of our burgers were way too salty. I was extremely disappointed and drowned my sorrows (about both the loss and the burger) in my spiked milkshake.

Monday: Zumi Sushi Japanese Kitchen

I love sushi. Zumi Sushi is a cute trendy place in the Hillsboro Village neighborhood near Vanderbilt University. My mom and I went for happy hour after I got off work. They have $5 cocktails, 2-for-1 beer and a free “happy hour” roll with the purchase of a specialty roll. We both got margaritas, obviously. (Like mother, like daughter, I guess.) The margaritas were good, but a little too strong to have with a dinner of sushi.  We are huge calamari fans, so we immediately ordered it the second I saw it on the menu. The calamari was crisp and delicious, without too much breading or being too chewy. The garlic-chili aioli that came with it was outstanding. For dinner I ordered the ying yang roll and got an eel-avocado-cucumber roll as the happy hour special. Best part about this restaurant: you can order your sushi with brown rice! That’s always a plus to me. The ying yang roll had yellowtail, yellow fin tuna, cilantro, cucumber, topped with avocado, crunch, wasabi mayo, and jalapeño on it. So, basically it was like spicy heaven in my mouth. I had never tried a sushi roll with jalapenos on it, but it gives an unexpected kick to the roll! Can’t go wrong with sushi, my friends. My mom ordered the red curry, which she liked, but said was too spicy for her taste. (I kept reminding her that she did order curry after all…)

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Tuesday: Fido

This coffee shop and cafe is so freaking cute I can’t hardly stand it. If it had cheeks, I would pinch them. I originally thought Fido only served coffee and sweets, but boy was I wrong. The menu is unbelievable (and healthy, too). They have everything from coffee to cake, omelette scrambles to bagel sandwiches, salmon entrees to eggplant sandwiches, and soup and salads! My mom and I went here before dropping her off at the airport.

I had the Turkey-Brie Sandwich with a cup of black bean tortilla soup. My mom had the Eden Salad. The turkey sandwich blew every other sandwich I have had in recent months out of the water. Holy cheesy-brie goodness; it was phenomenal. I had never had black bean soup before,  but I was pleasantly surprised. My mom’s salad was delicious (I stole a forkful or three…). On the way out I ordered a Vegan Beet It! Muffin to go, because around 3:00 p.m. at work, I am usually one starving lady.

The beet muffin was consumed after much interest (and some disgust) from my coworkers. Apparently seeing a bright red muffin on my desk with the words “Beet It!” on the label scares people a little bit. Who knew. (Fun fact, about four of them tried the muffin after making fun of it. I think they secretly liked it.) Yes, a beet and chocolate chip muffin sounds like the weirdest combination, but it had dark chocolate chips in it, so naturally I had to order it.  It helps that the main ingredient is beets (and not flour), so I felt pretty good about myself as I took a huge bite. It just tasted like a chocolate chip muffin with a just a hint of a beet aftertaste. Not bad, not bad at all! I was very pleasantly surprised! I would order it again in a heartbeet (punny, I know).

Tonight, dinner is a kale salad and grilled chicken. After a weekend of eating nothing but decadent restaurant food and ice cream, as marvelous as it all was, this girl needs to detox for awhile. My first day of training was rough, turns out a weekend full of food sticks with you for a couple days. Three miles was no easy feat.

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